Relapse prevention is an essential component of recovery and there are endless tools that help addicts avoid a relapse. One such tool is picking up the phone, often referred to as the “50 pound phone” because it is hard to make a phone call when we are feeling our worst.
Even those who are in their double digits – 10 years or more – of sobriety occasionally struggle, as expressed recently by Russell Brand in a blog post he wrote about relapse. “The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday,” he wrote on his website, russellbrand.tv. But, recognizing his thought was fleeting and that the promises of recovery outweigh the ill fated reality of active abuse of drugs and alcohol, Brand says he picked up the phone: “Even as I spin this beautifully dreaded web I am reaching for my phone. I call someone not a doctor or a sage not a mystic or a physician, just a bloke like me, another alcoholic, who I know knows how I feel.”
Just picking up the phone and calling someone to talk about triggers (in Brand’s case it was bad news from a woman) can help immeasurably because fellows in recovery have been through similar situations and sentiments. That is why in 12 step meetings people often say, “I have a sponsor and my sponsor has a sponsor” because somewhere, someone has had the same experience and can share how they got through it – sans alcohol or drugs.
Often in active addiction people struggle with what is coined “terminal uniqueness,” thinking that no one has walked in their shoes and experienced what they have. When they get sober and share what they thought of as unique experiences, they realize they are far from being alone, and that their sponsor – or their sponsor’s sponsor – has experienced the same thing and can shed light on how they overcame it.
Making a phone call a fellow in recovery is one of the most powerful tools to avoid relapse because, as Brand says, “the price of this [recovery from addiction] is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational.” Therefore, staying in one’s own head, filled with triggers and temptations may not serve up a rational answer – but someone on the other end of the phone line can provide some rationality to help us stay sober.
Here at Harmony Foundation, we understand the potential for relapse, which is why we have crafted a special program called Recommitment to Recovery aimed at helping those who have relapsed get back on track. Picking up the phone is just one of the many tools we instill in our clients in our relapse prevention programs.